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SDA - Looking Back at 2020

It hasn't been easy to keep up with all things Home and Living this year. Here's Brent to cover all you may have missed.

By Brent Woolgar

Updated 15 Apr 202421 Dec 2020

As 2020 draws to a close (“Thankfully!” I hear you say), let’s take a look at some recent changes in the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) space and within the broader NDIS Home and Living market.

 It is safe to say that 2020 has been the greatest period of change to date within the NDIS, Home and Living and SDA. It has at times been difficult to keep up with everything that’s been happening! 

 Therefore, here’s your quick guide to what has changed this year. 


Annual attestation for SDA properties

In mid-2020, the release of the new SDA rule provided many welcome changes to the SDA market. In particular, the ability of families to remain living together when one of the parents receives an SDA payment. Another change, which is easy to overlook, is the removal of the need for SDA providers to submit an annual attestation of the ongoing registration of SDA dwellings. Importantly, however, the removal of the annual attestation does not relieve providers of their responsibilities to maintain SDA properties to the requirements of the standards; it simply removes the annual reporting process.


SDA property registration

The NDIS was due to release a new technology-based platform to manage the SDA property registration process in the latter half of 2020. This did not happen. It appears that the release and associated market education sessions have been delayed. We are now expecting these to occur in early 2021. When it’s up and running, the new process promises to reduce the registration time frames. This will be welcome news to all those with projects currently underway.

Another important point to note regarding property registration is that SDA properties must be registered by an entity registered as an SDA Provider with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. This process of registering with the commission can take many, many months to complete. DSC recommends allowing at least six months for the provider registration process. So, if you have projects due for completion in the first half of 2021, your registration should already be underway.


Home and Living supports request form

 The NDIS recently updated its Home and Living website with a new section titled “Home and Living Supports Request Form”. The form can be found here.

We expect this form will become the standard method for NDIS participants to commence the process of exploring home and living options. But at this stage, it is not compulsory. The form can be completed at any time and submitted to [email protected]. The supporting information stipulates that the submission is not an assessment or a report; therefore, it seems to be more of an information-gathering exercise.

The “form” is a 19-page-long template. It has 13 main sections, which are:

  1. Participant Details
  2. Reason for this Request
  3. Current Living Arrangement
  4. Housing and Living Support Goals
  5. Support to Help you
  6. Your Current Housing and Living Situation
  7. How you Manage Tasks
  8. Your Health Care Needs
  9. Assessments and Reports
  10. Assistive Technology and Home Modifications
  11. Your Decision-Making
  12. Participant Consent
  13. Acknowledgement

 It requests substantial amounts of information across each section. As yet, it is not clear which NDIS processes this information will inform. However, it would be reasonable to assume that the data could be used to channel participants into certain types of home and living support streams depending on the information provided and the stated goals. 

 Support coordinators should be prepared to assist their clients submit the form, as it will be a considerable exercise to gather all the information requested. Hopefully, we will learn more about the process and where this form fits into the Home and Living market in early 2021. 


SDA data

The NDIA released new SDA data in late October 2020. This new data covers participants with SDA payments in their plan based on statistical area 3 (SA3) level. Data on SDA registrations are now also available at the SA3 level. You can read our previous article on the data here


New Conditions for providers supporting people who live alone

This change will not directly impact SDA providers, but it is still important to be across it as it will affect providers of daily living supports. As a result of the inquiry into the death of Anne-Marie Smith, providers cannot have a sole worker providing support to a person living alone unless certain conditions are met. This includes people who may be living in SDA. More information on this can be found here.

If you are an SDA provider of sole occupancy dwellings, you need to be aware of this change and ensure support providers operating within your property are compliant.


SDA market observations 2020

It has been another extremely busy year in the SDA market. Many property investors and developers have shifted their attention to the SDA market to assess if it might be the right fit for their future focus. As we have said from the beginning, SDA is not for everyone. The requirements to be successful in the SDA market have not changed, including the following: 

  1. Having a participant focus and co-designing SDA properties.
  2. Understanding the needs of residents, including support needs and social and community connections.
  3. Delivering high-quality, functional homes that enhance a person’s ability to lead an ordinary daily life in a safe environment.
  4. Delivering homes that align with the emerging preferences of people in terms of how, where and with whom they want to live. 

It is also prudent to remind potential investors that “if it seems too good to be true – it probably is”. There has been a steep increase in investment opportunities in SDA throughout 2020, and it’s safe to say some of them are very, very questionable. If you are thinking of investing, it is vitally important that you seek relevant advice to ensure the proposal is accurate and realistic.

With that said, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and New Year. See you in 2021!


Brent Woolgar

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